Perceptions of Trust in the Boardroom

Laura-Ann Migliore and Anshila Horton DeClouette published “Perceptions of Trust in the Boardroom: A Conceptual Model” in Online First in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. They have kindly shared some background information about the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

The target audience for this article is CEOs and Boards of Directors for any organization – for profit and non-profit – who’s leaders are interested in improving trust between the leading executive and members of the board, as well as increasing awareness of perceptions of trust among board members. Although not explicitly stated in the article, the authors see superintendents and school boards, as well as governing boards in the Higher Education Industry as a target audience.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

We are inspired by the need to rebuild trust in corporate America, especially given the wide-spread exposure of several corporate scandals and related fraud cases of multinational companies and high-profile Wall Street executives. Given these effects, we see the current U.S. economic crisis and its impact in global markets as an alarming concern for the future prosperity of the U.S. In addition, we also see the need to strengthen the U.S. education system as an integral part towards providing competent leaders with the integrity to build trust and improve the country’s competitive position through innovation and performance excellence.

Our approach towards corporate governance and trust among executives is holistic. On the macro level, we recognize and acknowledge the various factors influencing the institutional, legal, and cultural aspects of corporate governance. However, at the micro and most fundamental level, we see the importance of cultivating trust among individual executive leaders. Our interest in perceptions of trust focus specifically on human intercognition and the influencing personal-level factors of personality traits, motivation, as influenced by cultural values, competence in general and specific skills, as well as interpersonal skills, and reliability in terms of communication, action, and performance outcomes. We also recognize and acknowledge the latent variable of human intuition and its role in one’s perception of trust towards another individual.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Yes, we found a case study example in the literature of past CEO, Joe Wilson and the trusting relationships he had with Xerox Corporation Board of Directors to apply to our Self-Leadership Trust Model. The explicit descriptions of Wilson’s leadership behaviors, expressions of personality, competence, and demonstrated reliability, fit extremely well with our trust model. In addition, and most delightful was the inspiration we, as authors, gained from Wilson, a leader truly ahead of his time, who demonstrated ideal perceptions in trust building with the ability to harmonize the spectrum of the Five-Factor Model (FFM) personality and Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions for greater appreciation of diversity and the building of inclusive organizational cultures.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

We see a wonderful opportunity to fill a gap in the research by going deeper on an individual-to-individual analysis with our Self-Leadership Trust Model. As stated in our article:

“Our model presents a framework to help illuminate the black box of board member behaviors and provides explanation on perceptions of trust by individual board members based on the inter-relational influence of personality and national culture, as well as individual motivation, competence, and reliability.”

Our aspiration is to provide individual executive assessment on perceptions of trust towards self and others and synthesize the individual composite scores with the holistic influencing factors of organizational culture, legal, and institutional factors. The evaluations of this analysis and synthesis is aimed at providing customized feedback for improving trust, building effective working relationships, and achieving the desired performance outcomes. We see our research having the potential to help rebuild trust in corporate America, as well as the U.S. education system on the most fundamental level, by helping executive leaders understand their own intercognition as related to perceptions of trust towards self and others.

How does this study fit int your body of work/line of research?

This study represents the symbiotic expertises of two independent researchers who found greater appreciation in the diversity of our studies, and in doing so, were empowered to construct and apply the Self-Leadership Trust Model.

Dr. Laura-Ann Migliore specializes in the social sciences with focus on the inter-relational aspects of personality and culture, and its influence on leadership and organizational behavior. Dr. Anne DeClouette’s research focuses on accounting practices and corporate governance, specifically boards of directors. Together, the authors provide a holistic approach on both macro and micro levels, with relevant application towards strategic corporate governance and leadership effectiveness through the discipline and practice of building trusting relationships.

How did your paper change during the review process?

The reviewers’ challenged us to think deeper and improve the article to demonstrate a tighter link between our proposed model’s components and the supporting literature to the problems of boards and corporate governance. We explicitly addressed the level of analysis as individual-to-individual (i.e., the perception of trust on an individual level) and linked implications to board effectiveness and the overall organization, using the model to explain and support individual perceptions of trust. In addition, we theoretically demonstrate how the model could be used to explain CEO and board member trust, and we used Joe Wilson (past CEO of Xerox Corporation) as an example with literature to support our discussion.

What, if anything, would you do if you could go back and do this study again?

Nothing at this point in time, as our study presents a conceptual trust model. Our plan is to move forward and test the Self-Leadership Trust Model. The authors are looking to conduct a mix-methods study with CEOs and Boards of Directors and test the conceptual model and the survey instrument. We would also like to conduct the study with superintendents and school boards, as well as governing boards in the Higher Education Industry.

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